When I wake up in the morning I wiggle my toes and then repeat “I’m alive” three times. Then I do a little yoga stretch before I swing my legs over the side of the bed. I pee (doesn’t everybody when they first get up?), mosey on down the hall to the kitchen to get the kettle started for coffee, turn the light on Pete’s aquarium and let our golden retriever Buddy out for his first pee of the day. Joining him outside, I pick the newspaper up from the end of the driveway and gently place it in his mouth. Buddy thens trot back into the house (rather proudly), and drops the paper in the proximity of his food bowl, a not so subtle hint.
Today, as I walked down the driveway I heard one of my favorite sounds: the call of the wood thrush. My heart soared. On that note, I think it is time for a personal update: as a good friend pointedly noted, inquiring minds would like to know.
My emotional challenges hardly need delineating. But joy continues to burst through, as sudden and unpredictable as bird song. Sometimes I am actually outrageously happy; full of energy and plans. My stamina and lack thereof do follow a pretty set schedule though. For a day or two following chemo, (and because of the steroids) I fly pretty high. But when I come down, it is precipitous; the sense of fatigue profound.
There are other unpleasant side effects that also set in about day three. I cough a good deal and it feels as if there is a band tightening around my chest (what one friend in my club calls the alimta squeeze). Incessantly watering eyes, scaling skin, and nose bleeds are part of the mix. My other mucus membranes (all of them) become quite irritated, resulting in diarrhea and mouth sores.
By the second week, I am feeling marginally better on all counts.
Week three—I feel pretty damn good. Then it’s time to do it all over again; I have a scan review tomorrow followed by infusion. I had that scan on Monday, and while in Boston, went on a little outing. My friend Ginger, who is a double digit survivor of lung cancer but now battling a new, unrelated cancer, made arrangements for the two of us to go to lunch at Flour and then to the MIT Museum in Cambridge.
We had a fine old time, and asked a member of the staff to take a commemorative picture of the two of us, in which, Ginger appears to be a mini me. We’re sporting exactly the same hairstyle at the moment, although she is far less gray. Our smiles are quite similar. However, although Ginger never thinks of herself as petite, either she is, or I am very large. Like I said, a mini me. So where’s the photo?
Well, it wasn’t very flattering; just didn’t capture our inner beauty—I think it might have been the lighting. So, we’ll just have to take another one the next time we are together. Promise.